The railway journey from Zagreb to Split was very beautiful - winding through the beautiful Sava valley. It was much better than yesterday`s from Split to Zagreb. I avoided Slovenia for decades fearing it would be Alpine and Austrian but what is wrong with those things, really? It is full of castles, churches and mountains and seems to have been invented by the Brothers Grimm in a spare moment. You feel as if a great weight has been lifted from your shoulders when you are in a small country which your mother and sister have not heard of, but then you remember you are still in the EU.
I have never experienced deja vu but Ljubljana does remind me of something and I think it is Laurel and Hardy in Babes in Toyland. Slovenia also reminds me of Bandrika.
Anyway, it's a wonderful treat visiting a new European country. I have no more new ones left except Denmark and Norway, which I do not intend to visit because they are clean, tidy, affluent, Protestant, Teutonic and socially liberal, whereas I am a socially conservative anarchist. Denmark and Norway sound as boring as get out, although Stockholm I did visit, because Sweden was once a great power and, as an imperialist, all former empires attract me.
San Marino and Andorra do not count as European countries. Malta and Cyprus are islands and therefore not in Europe. And islands off the coasts of Africa and Asia respectively, come to that. But perhaps Mr. Putin will create some new European countries for me to visit.
I like Slovenia, despite myself. I accept by now that almost every city has been done up and gentrified and acts as plant for the tourist industry. I am not repelled by the new paint as I was when I visited Tallinn and Riga years ago; I came back rejoicing that it had not yet happened to Bucharest.
Alain de Botton's insight about his native Switzerland comes to mind in relation to Slovenia - yes it is boring but boring is another word for peaceful. And it is only boring on the surface. Its Alpine charm hides the usual post-Communist mess.
A crocodile of middle aged people marched past my hotel protesting in support of a former Prime Minister imprisoned for corruption.
'Why do they do that?''Because they are stupid. They do this every day'.It looks like Austria but it is much more exciting and the people much more human. It also has burek.